This article was last updated on December 30, 2015
Ever since one day millions of years ago, when our ancestor scaled a hill in order to scan the horizon, only to see another mountain in the distance, we have been filled with an itching to travel and explore. This mythical ancestor from millennia ago saw the mountain in the distance and started wondering what was beyond that mountain. The only way to find out was to go there and along the way surpass numerous challenges and obstacles. Only the toughest, most resourceful and luckiest survived.
From that day on, traveling has been a part of our DNA. Humanity expanded from its little beginnings in one corner of Africa, to cover all the four corners of the globe. Exploration had been a primary drive of our kind for countless millennia. It was a dangerous undertaking that risked the ultimate sacrifice and only the fearless would be the ones venturing out.
There are very few unexplored places on this planet left, but the call for adventure still lingers out there. With our world becoming a smaller place due to technology, it is much easier now for people to travel than in any time in history. It is something that everyone who wishes to rise up above their meager existence should do.
3 Ways Traveling Can Teach You To Be Fearless
1) It teaches you to find your way in an unknown place or situation
When traveling you can often find yourself in situations where you don’t know where you are and need to find your way. The place around you is unfamiliar, maybe sometimes even threatening. You don’t know where you are, you don’t speak the language and you need to get home.
This type of a situation teaches you how to orient yourself fast. I remember one day, when traveling in a third world country, I decided to go for a walk. I walked, and kept on walking, until at one point I realized I had no idea where I was.
I continued on walking, trying to find some sort of a higher ground to be able to survey my surroundings. I found a bridge and climbed on top of it. From the bridge in the distance I could see a tower, which I had previously seen in tourist guidebooks. I thought to myself that if I want to find my way back I need to walk in the direction of that tower. It was the right decision.
Sometimes the situations are more extreme. You might find yourself in front of danger or maybe lost in the forest. You need to use all your skills in order to find your way. However at the end of the journey, you will realize that you have grown for having arrived at your destination. You will no longer fear the unknown, but instead embrace it, knowing that you can conquer it.
2) It teaches you to take risks
Life in many countries is often chaotic. In order to go about their business, people in these countries need to take risks that people in the developed world are not used to. Sometimes these risks are existential risks, such as working in dangerous jobs to put food on the table, but sometimes they are a bit more mundane. However even these mundane things can result in a significant mindset shift.
Traffic in many of these countries is horrible and not orderly as back home. Cars don’t respect any rules, lights or pedestrians. You literally put your life on the line when trying to cross the street.
I remember one day waiting a long time to cross the street. Cars were passing and no one was stopping to let pedestrians cross. However I did see some of the locals step onto the road and try to navigate the chaos and trying not to get hit by the cars. Seeing that I was not going to cross, unless I do the same, I decided to take the plunge. In a short while, it became like second nature to me.
Whether it is crossing a bridge full of holes that seems on the verge of collapsing into the ravine below, or holding on for your life in the back of the pick-up truck driving fast on the winding road in the mountains, you experience things that you never thought you would and put your life in the hands of Lady Luck.
Sometimes you just need to learn how to let go and take a risk. When you get back home, you will have a greater affinity to take risks that are less life threatening and be less risk-averse. This can result in you taking action, when in the past you would have let things pass.
Seeing life in other countries also opens up your eyes to the immense power of the human spirit, people struggling to make ends meet, to provide for their families and live a happy life.
3) It teaches you to do things you would have never done before
You will learn how to overcome obstacles that you never thought you could overcome. I never thought I would be climbing mountains, yet found myself hiking high up in altitudes that tested my body and stamina.
Most of the year, I spend time living in a flat country close to sea level, yet this summer I found myself on the top of Africa. Standing at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, after a trek of 5 days and a challenging night climb on the final night, tested my body and my mind.
There were times when I wanted to give up. There were times when I wanted to turn back. Yet I learned to control my own self-doubt and to carry on despite the pain. The feeling that you get from completing a tough challenge was worth it. The view you get is breath-taking, but the feeling you get internally is priceless.
A year before, I would have never thought that I would be doing that, but here I was.
I survived and grew stronger. I learned how to face my fears by doing things that I thought would be impossible previously. These experiences taught me how to be fearless.
You too can rise up, challenge yourself and emerge a better person for it, a person who is fearless and overcomes any obstacle that comes their way.
Photo credit: Moyan Brenn